Dubbing language difference in Second World War films

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The Second World War has always been a source of inspiration for filmmakers all around the globe, spawning hundreds of feature films, short films and television series. While their scopes and themes are extremely diverse (e.g. multiple forms of combat in Europe or in the Pacific, the Shoah, etc.), their plots typically feature at least two groups with conflicting interests, often belonging to different nationalities, also speaking different languages. Filmmakers have adopted various strategies to represent languages, ranging from strict linguistic realism (i.e. the presence of authentic instances of foreign languages) to sheer simplification (i.e. the replacement of a language by another), triggering different effects, as discussed by scholars such as Sternberg (1981), Bleichenbacher (2008) and O’Sullivan (2011). This paper aims at analysing the way heterolingualism — a term coined by Grutman (1997) to refer to the motivated use of language difference in fiction — is dealt with in the French dubbed version of a corpus of seven Second World War films: Battleground (Wellman 1949), Stalag 17 (Wilder 1953), The Great Escape (Sturges 1963), Where Eagles Dare (Hutton 1968), A Bridge Too Far (Attenborough 1977), Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino 2009) and The Monuments Men (Clooney 2014). These films were thoroughly transcribed in both their original and French dubbed versions so that each line of dialogue could be tagged according to parameters referring to ‘representing’ and ‘represented languages’ (Delabastita 2010), as well as the dubbing strategies for language difference (Corrius & Zabalbeascoa 2011) that were applied. The resulting statistical study, which is part of an ongoing PhD dissertation (Labate 2019), has made it possible to single out some tendencies regarding the use of languages in French dubbed versions, while a more qualitative analysis of the scenes has singled out several unusual, yet effective solutions to convey heterolingualism to French audiences.
Period18 Jun 2019
Event titleMedia For All 8: Complex Understandings
Event typeScientific committee
LocationStockholm, SwedenShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Dubbing
  • Audiovisual Translation
  • Audiovisual Translation Studies
  • Multilingualism
  • Heterolingualism
  • L3
  • Language Difference
  • Translation
  • Translation Studies
  • Paper
  • Presentation